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miércoles, 23 de septiembre de 2015

OSR Week 2015: Realms of Crawling Chaos

In keeping with this week dedicated to Old School Renaissance (OSR) style role-playing games today I will talk about the supplement Realms of Crawling Chaos (a clear homage to the tale of the same title) and to Nyarlahotep), published by Goblinoid Games inside his range of supplemnents and adventures for Labyrinth Lord and its Advanced Edition Companion that's fully compatible with other games of this type I reviewed previously.

Inside Realms of Crawling Chaos we will find the following contents:

Introduction to Lovecraftian Dark Fantasy

The introduction is dedicated to present the literaty themes of H.P. Lovecraft and other authors which had explored Cthulhu Mythos and which the supplement contents are based:
  • The Insignificance of Man (although we believe to be the planet's dominant species our time will pass and we will only leave ruins behind us like the other civilizations that preceded us).
  • The Vastness of the Universe (the Universe is so vast that's impossible for human beings to comprehend it).
  • An Uncaring Natural World (there's no creator gods caring for their mortal sons, we are only a species born thanks to an accident of the evolution and like all creatures is subjected to all the random precesses ruling the world).
  • The Reality of Man as an Animal (we are endowed with the gift of intelligence and this makes us to believe to be superior, but we really are animals and will die like them).
  • Superior Otherworldly Beings (perhaps we are superior to animals, but beings existing in other worlds are superior to us and have grat powers, perhaps we want to attract their attention to know more about it and use them for our own personal gains, but this is very dangerous).
  • Science as a Double Edged Sword (science allows us to understand the universe, but what we may discover, like other intelligent cratures more ancient that Humanity or the prospect of change ourselves, may be dangerous).
All this themes are translated in a series of advises and materials allowing us to create a campaign background for our adventures, consisting in a human civilization with a near Middle Age technological level built over the ruins of other preceding civilizations (perhaps alien or from other dimensions) without the tipical races of most fantasy worlds (Elfs, Dwarfs, etc.), being replaced by strange beings form other dimensions or previously existing long before us.

In campaigns which can be developed with Realms of Crawling Chaos Playing Characters can explore old ruins and discover the terrible secrets hidden there, facing cults worshipping dreadful and powerful beings or visiting places like R’'lyeh, Yoth, K’n-yan, N’kai or Yuggoth.

Races for Characters

Realms of Crawling Chaos brings the chance of playing characters of races with a distinct lovecraftian overtones, including the following ones:
  • Sea Blood (hybrid descendants of humans and humanoid creatures of the sea depths, namely the descendants of Deep Ones).
  • Subhumans (hybrids of voormis, a race living in caves and worshipping Tsathoggua, and its human slaves).
  • White Apes and White Apes and Human Hybrids (both of course inspired by the tale Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family, escrit al 1920) written by Lovecraft.
In all the cases we have the option of using these races as explained in the basic book of Labyrinth Lord (race as character class) or using the advanced options of the Advanced Edition Companion (race + character class), in the latter case we have the available classes for each race and the adustments for the corresponding abilities.

Character Class Race
Subhuman White
White Ape
The symbol used in this table is the Yellow Sign

New Magic

This supplement also introduces new magical methods, divided in formulae preparation and new spells.

Formulae combine magical and alchemical procedures to obtain a substance with a definite use or an specific effect, among the possible types stands out some classical ones like Condense Essential Salts (allowing to reduce a deceased corpse to its essential salts to revive it later) or Powder of Ibn Ghazi (to make visible all those creatures that while invisible have a certain pressence in our universe or dimension) or new compounds like Oil of Sea Blood Revelation (used to detect individuals with Sea Blood in his veins) or Tincture of Living Death (used to revive deceased creatures, its use must be continous to have effect).

Inside new spells stands out examples like Hideous Graft (allowing to bind dead creature parts to a body) and Walk Among Angles (allowing the spell caster to go through areas build with non-euclidean geometries) or some that aren't so new like the spells to call creatures of Cthlhu Mythos, Mind Transference (to transfer the mind of the sorcerer to another body) or Revivify from Essential Salts (allowing to try to revire a creature peviously reduced to essential salts as explained previously).


The long list of Monsters of the supplement includes many creatures familiar to any person knowing the Cthlhu Mythos canon and shows them following the Labyrinth Lordformat, we will find minor creatures like Colours out of Space, Deep Ones or Fungi from Yuggoth or most powerful creatures like Azathoth, Cthulhu or Nyarlathotep.

Eldritch Artifacts

What would be of an adventure without the intervention of knowledge of Cthulhu Mythos and the appearance of rather dangerous artifacts helping (or endangering) characters?

Realms of Crawling Chaos also gives us a set of objects straight out of the works by Lovecraft surely you will find familiar: Brain Cylinders (used by Fungi from Yuggoth to store creature brains the find interesting), Cthulhu Idol (used by cultists worshipping it and willing to communicate with the god, something that could be dangerous...), Great Race Ray Gun (created by Yithians to combat Polypous Horrors), etc...

Psionic Powers

The psionic powers system included in Realms of Crawling Chaos will allow the referee to give psychic powers to creatures facing them so bolsting its alien nature, although its necessary to remark this powers have no reference in Lovecraft tales so thye come from authors imagination, it's also recommended to be used only by Mithos creatures (if the refereee desires them to be available for characters he is advised to read appendices Psionics and Mutants & Mazes from Mutant Future as a guide to apply them).

Powers used in combat work using a Psionic Attack Table with a structure similar to the resistance table from Call of Cthulhu, to check if the power used is successful it will be necessary to compare in the table the Psionic Strength of the attacker with the one of the defender (or Wisdom if is a character without psychic powers) to see the number to equal o exceed throwing 1d20.

Powers available are 18 and it's possible to find examples like Dimension Travel (to move himself and other creatures to other dimensions), Mental Barrier (to protect himself from mental attacks), Neural Telekinesis (to move objects with the power of the mind) or Psionic Crush (to crush the mind of the objective or even kill him).


With all contents already reviewed there's also a set of appendices so much interesting that will alow the referee to manage the following themes:
  • Reading and deciphering wolumes and writings realted to Mythos creatures and the effects sorcerers could suffer if failing badly their comprehension rolls (and you will agree with me that's not the same trying to comprehend the Daemonolatreiae by Nicholas Remy or the Pnakotic Manuscripts than the Necronomicon...).
  • Creation of Random Artifacts, that can be designed with the corresponding dice rolls or choosing the more interesting options in three lists with 100 options each one, so it's possible to determine its magical o technological power, the objects form and a strange and disturbing property which caracterizes it.
  • Needed notes for using psionic powers described in the supplement with the game Mutant Future.
  • Literaty sources readed to write the supplement (mostly works by H.P. Lovecraft, although there's some references to Clark Ashton Smith).

To finish this review I can give you some advice for using Realms of Crawling Chaos as a supplement for other OSR games.

In addition to it's use with Labyrinth Lord or Mutant Future some more obvious possibilities are Lamentations of the Flame Princess (my review of the Grindhouse Edition: part 1, part 2 and part 3 and official website) and Carcosa regarding the themes treated and how are treated, although there's also room for other games and settings, like Aventuras en la Marca del Este (the Blue Box of the Game have a chapter devoted to treat Mythos creatures presence in the world of the Mark), Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Jernhest (soon to be published after its successful patronage campaign) or Dungeons & Cthulhu (in beta testing).

If you know the game Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium it will be easy to extrapolate contents and aventures to be used with any of these games, for instance you could adapt The Haunted House to a dark fantastic medieval setting (for inspiration you can read Las Mil y Una Casas Corbitt, written in Spanish).

This entry it's also available in the following languages:
Castellano Català

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